Category Archives: Sex Education

Abstinence-Only Education Gives Birth to Arizona’s High Teen Pregnancy Rate

Arizona has an especially high teen-pregnancy rate. Arizona also promotes abstinence-only education in its public schools.

Arizona has an especially high teen-pregnancy rate. Arizona also promotes abstinence-only education in its public schools.

Arizona is known for a lot of things. The Grand Canyon, our universities, beautiful sunsets.

And, oh yeah, our truly awful teen pregnancy rate.

Ranked against the other 49 states, Arizona’s teen-pregnancy rate has been in the top 5 for years. And while you probably won’t see that little factoid emblazoned on a license plate anytime soon, teen pregnancy still has a significant impact on Arizona residents.


Abstinence-only education teaches that the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and STIs is to abstain from sex, which is true. It is also not very helpful to the 70 percent of teenagers who have had intercourse by age 19.


As of 2009, Arizona had the fifth highest teen birth rate in the United States. This trend is on the rise — as of 2006 the rate had increased by 6.5 percent. In 2009, 12,537 teenagers became pregnant. Of those pregnancies, 10,952 resulted in live births. While the majority of those women were either 18 or 19, that’s still about 3,500 girls under the age of 17 giving birth, a number that varies every year but generally stays in the 4000s. Continue reading

Time to Have the Talk with Your Teen?

Talking to teens about sex can be intimidating, but it is vitally important for parents to talk to their teenagers in order to empower them to make healthy decisions.

Planned Parenthood Arizona is offering a free Parent & Teen Workshop to give Arizona families the tools they need to have an open and honest family dialogue about sex and sexuality. Workshop participants will have a lively and interactive session, and we will share tips for making responsible, health decision about sex. We will also discuss pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection prevention. And we will share the resources that are available from Planned Parenthood.

The workshop will be on Thursday, March 31, 2011 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm. To RSVP and obtain location information, please contact us via e-mail or by calling 520-784-5825.

Marianne is Here Because Sex Ed Matters

Volunteering at the PPAZ office

I believe in Planned Parenthood. I believe in reproductive freedom, the right to choose, medically accurate sexuality education for all people, access to all reproductive medical care options and, especially, freedom from harassment for women who make that choice.

I am here for Planned Parenthood because I remember my high school years. I grew up in Santa Monica, California and I was educated in the Catholic school system. The best part was this was the early to mid-’70s. There was still kind of a ‘hangover’ from the late ’60s to early ’70s with ‘free love’, ‘summer of love’ and Woodstock. The ‘hangover’ was evident in our high school. The school administration was unabashedly liberal. They actually believed that ‘sex ed’ should be more than just some put-upon phys ed instructor, usually the football coach, trying to maintain order amongst a group of giggling teenagers and passing on some hard-won information about reproduction, sexual intercourse, birth and STDs.

The administration set up a balance of courses that the students passed through at each grade level. Freshman usually started with just the regular catechism courses. These taught the church’s position with regard to birth control and the role of sexual intercourse inside and outside marriage. This was required; after all, we were a Catholic high school. Continue reading

Arizona’s SB1309 Law Has Gutted Sex Education

In May of 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB1309, the  so-called “Parental Bill of Rights.”  This bill requires parental consent before a child or teen can receive sex education in school.  This law also requires Arizona schools to notify parents when material regarding “sexuality” is presented in non-sex education classes, such as biology. Proponents of the law say this bill will ensure that the government does not intrude on parents’ child rearing.  The Arizona Board of Education says that it will be up to the local school governing boards to implement the law.

Before the passage of SB 1309, Arizona did not require sex education.  Local school boards decided which subjects this education would cover and the grade level in which topics are introduced.  If sex education was taught, it had to be age appropriate.  Abstinence had to be covered and stressed as the only effective protection against unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, and abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage was the expected social standard for unmarried school-age person.  This is from the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that had provisions added for abstinence education. The federal government then began to divert tens of millions of dollars to abstinence education programs.  Most programs were tied to religious programs, rather than traditional public health organizations.

Arizona is one of three states that now require parental consent for sex education.  The other two states are Utah and Nevada.  The Guttmacher Institute says 35 states – including the District of Columbia – mandate that students learn about sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. Arizona is also ranked last in the nation in education funding.

The result?  Continue reading

Support Comprehensive Sex Ed to Support Queer Youth

Since today is National Coming Out Day, I want to shine the spotlight on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer (LGBTQ) youth. In the past few weeks, the headlines have been filled with stories about LGBTQ teen suicides, and bullying in our schools.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, LGBTQ youth are four times as likely to commit suicide as their heterosexual peers, mainly as a result of the negative attitudes about LGBTQ people that are so pervasive in our culture.

Arizona is not immune to the negative climate for queer youth in our schools.  One of the challenges is that Arizona schools do not offer comprehensive sex education.  Rather, they focus on abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum.  Abstinence-only is a huge waste of money, and it’s harmful for all teens.  But let’s look at the particular problems that abstinence-only education creates for LGBTQ youth.

Arizona does not recognize the right of same-sex couples to get married. When LGBTQ youth hear that they should remain abstinent until marriage, they may interpret that message as not being applicable to their lives. As a result, they may have unprotected sex, since teens are not getting information about how to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Is it any wonder that 1 in 4 teens in the state of Arizona has a sexually transmitted infection?

Moreover, abstinence-only curriculum contributes to negative attitudes about LGBTQ people, because it assumes that heterosexuality is the norm. When LGBTQ teens are repeatedly told that they are abnormal, they may experience depression and other mental health effects. Is it any wonder that LGBTQ youth have such alarming suicide rates?

Planned Parenthood supports comprehensive sex education for all of Arizona’s youth. We also support candidates who will support our mission of promoting and protecting every person’s freedom and right to enjoy sexual health and well-being, to make reproductive choices, and build healthy, strong families.

Please lend your support to LGBTQ youth by voting for candidates who support comprehenisve sex education in our schools. Sex ed classes may be one of the few places that LGBTQ teens hear positive messages about themselves in the schools. And we owe it to our youth to send them a positive message. For a list of PPAA-endorsed candidates, check out our 2010 voter guide.